Despite the $871,000 price tag, Mayor Jeff Genung believes the cost of restructuring the town's senior administration team will result in long-term benefits and savings.
Genung says the restructuring came in on budget and was an expected cost of changing the way the town conducts business.
At council's June 22 meeting, Councillor Tara McFadden sought public disclosure on the cost. She remains concerned with the exorbitant cost and how the restructuring was completed.
In January, then CAO Dave Devana announced a major restructuring of the senior administration. He wanted to streamline the upper management, believing it was too large. With the structural change, he estimated the town would save about $50,000 per year.
Mayor Jeff Genung says the savings will be far greater. As part of the restructuring, the town will be beefing up its engineering expertise. While it won't replace the major undertakings of Urban Systems Ltd. it will add engineering expertise to handle day-to-day matters.
"Those things add up over time, and as our community is growing, the need for that is growing with it. This was really a move with the future in my mind," says Mayor Genung.
"The reorganization is steep in bringing some of that talent inside so we could save up to $300,000 every year moving forward," says Mayor Genung.
He points out being short one senior management position for eight months has resulted in savings that will help reduce the cost of the transition.
Genung stands by the restructuring plan implemented. He says it represents one of the major planks in his 2017 election platform.
"There's no looking back. I thought it was a bold plan, and this community was in need, in my view, of a relook at how we're doing things."
"I understand that some people don't agree with it or are not happy with it. It's not easy affecting people, but in the long term we're headed in the right direction."
McFadden says she only recently became aware of the cost, and questions if it was money well spent.
"The magnitude of it caught me by surprise. I never supported how it was done, and we'll be living with its impact for a significant amount of time."
"That's a lot of money we could use in other places. That's money that could be earning us money in the bank, or available for future projects, or valuable for COVID-19 response, or for helping out recreational needs."
"We're in uncertain times, and we need to be nimble, and we need to make sure we're being accountable and transparent with taxpayers' dollars and making sure we are getting the best value that we can for them."
A perfect storm has emerged with the resignation of Devana, followed closely by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The town was in the middle of the transition, and only now has been able to focus on replacing both the CAO and the new general manager of Infrastructure and Operational Services. That department head will now oversee community services, parks, and open spaces, which previously had its own senior manager.
Both McFadden and Genung salute the efforts of those remaining on the team for taking on extra duties while guiding the town through the pandemic.
"My hats off to our entire team that's doing an amazing job of running the municipality," says McFadden, "but it would have been so much better if we were at capacity and be looking ahead and being creative and being nimble as opposed to just being able to manage the day-to-day."
"The situation isn't ideal," agrees Genung, "but I'm really proud of the group that has stepped up and filled in."
While not involved in the restructuring discussions or decisions, Interim CAO Drew Hyndman says the higher figure of nearly $1 million mentioned at the council meeting included costs associated with the departure of CAO Dave Devana.
The town has begun the recruitment process for the new CAO. Genung says the position will be filled in the fall.